Showing posts from December, 2009

Haruki cemetery tidy-up

The last clean-up of the Haruki cemetery was just a day after Ohigan on 22 September when the fall 2009 ethnobotany class cleaned up the garden. With the next ethnobotany class clean-up slated for 23 March 2010, there was a need to do some grass whacking and general tidying up during this solstice season.

My son assisted in the hand-pulling.

The memorial stone for Hoshino Noritake.

I also cleaned up around the lemon grass. Soaked with sweat we called our effort "good enough" around eleven in the morning and headed off to find lunch.

Semi-grandchild and cupcakes

Shrue's sister first came to live with us in order to attend sixth grade here on Pohnpei back in the late 1990s. She would live with us for a total of seven years. I did not raise her per se, she was mature when she arrived. Still she is like a daughter. Her visit this Christmas with her baby was like the arrival of a grandchild. Or semi-pseudo-grandchild.

My youngest proudly displays her Christmas cupcakes.

Later they were frosted and coated with sprinkles.

Textbooks, content, and the journey

Text books were once written to serve dual purposes. The first and primary purpose was for use during a course by a student. The second and secondary purpose was as a reference text after the class had ended. This second purpose meant that texts often included more material than the course with the intent that the text would be comprehensive as reference material long after the course was over.

That second use of texts, however, is arguably a relic of history now. Post-course today one turns first to the Internet for further information on a topic, not one's collection of college texts. This second purpose of the texts which drove texts to be overly comprehensive with a detailed index is no longer present. 

Another reason texts tended to bloat in terms of material relative to one term was the need for one text to serve many different instructors in many different institutions. Each instructor had their own preferences on how to focus and guide the course.

Web based materials, howeve…


Although our days remain nearly twelve hours long year round, the equation of time shifts sunrise and sunset during the year. Sitting at nearly seven degrees north latitude, October and November bring earlier sunsets. Here near the equator, there is no dusk, just a sudden shutting off of the light of day. While in June there is light until almost seven in the evening, by November dark falls on a rainy evening by six. The difference is just enough to impact my evening running. Due to primarily to dogs, I tend to avoid running after dark.

Thus in the northern hemisphere fall my evening running is usually negatively impacted, and this fall was no exception. My goal is to attain 200 minutes of running during any sevey day period. I track this with an Calc spreadsheet.

In August and September I was averaging 189 minutes of running over any seven day span. With the darkness effect impacting my evening running habit, October and November collapsed to 116 minutes over any seven d…

Marbles or Hot Wheels?

One of the conceptual themes that threads through SC 130 Physical Science at the College of Micronesia-FSM is the theme of the mathematical models. Many theories in physical science are framed as mathematical models, equations that make predictions about the behavior of a system.

Many of the laboratories center on linear mathematical models. There is no mathematical pre-requisite for the course. Students in the course may be in developmental mathematics courses. At best, they are either in college algebra or have completed college algebra.

Although the students enter the course with weak mathematical backgrounds, the intent of the course for mathematically weaker students is to introduce them to mathematical models through observable systems. The hope is that the physically observable system will provide cognitive hooks for the abstract mathematical models.

Yet even while introducing linear models, the course seeks to expose the students to more complex mathematical vistas. To take th…

Christmas presents

After marching earlier today in the church, a return home meant a chance to open presents from grandma.

Took me a while to explain that the concept was a plane-a-day for a year, not 365 planes in one day. Now the calendar graces the living room shelf - it is our only 2010 calendar in the house.

The girls look over a cook book. The youngest was excited when she learned that a cake with sprinkles and pink decorating gel accompanied the cook book.

That is an expression of genuine joy. I hadn't a clue as to what would have made her happy this Christmas, but grandma pegged it. 

When I was a lad, my middle sister and I would often abandon our own gifts and wind up playing with the Fisher Price my youngest sister had received. This was that toy this year, by the end of the evening all three were engaged in firing off Hot Wheels cars. The rig was eventually populated with toy soldiers who would go flying off when a car shot past.

Christmas marching

Christmas marching at the Kosrae Congregational Church in Kolonia. This year there were two stars from the family in the etawi srisrik marching. Stars are female unit leads in the Kosraean church marching. 

Marchers move in units. In Kosrae a typical unit might be four marchers. The strength of this arrangement is that only the lead marcher needs to know the complex marching formation. The others in the unit can simply follow along. This allows those who missed practices due to work or other obligations to join in the marching and singing - no one need feel left out.

All of the women's dresses are of the same fabric, but the styles vary. Look closely at the top image and the image above - the pleated dark green band is in a different location. Each dress is hand sewn from new material each year. And each dress looks similar and yet is unique. Individuality within group coherence. 

The men are wearing shirts that match, but a different material than that of the women. The intent is of…

SVG animation II: Motion graphs

I wanted to have a rolling ball move along a surface while a time versus distance graph plotted the time and position of the animated rolling ball. After looking over Animating Your SVG by Charles McCathienvile at Dev.Opera I felt that animating attributeName="d" in the path element would produce the desired effect. The ball, meanwhile, would be animated using animateMotion and an mpath child element. 

The resulting SVG animation failed to run in Google Chrome but worked very nicely in Opera 10.10. This was a puzzle, and disappointing. My target is Ubuntu 9.10 computers running FireFox 3.5. Unfortunately not even Gecko 1.9.3/FireFox 3.7 will support animateMotion. Google Chrome, however, will run on Ubuntu 9.10, and is in place on some of the machines already. So a Chrome friendly solution, which might also run in FireFox 3.7, was desired. 

The animation works as I expected in Opera, but failed in Chrome. The "d" path line appears instantaneously and then…

SVG animation

An article on the CSS animation reminded me that the last time I tried SVG animation browsers could not yet render the animation. Realizing the standard dated back to 2003, Knowing that the CSS animation effort involved concepts and even commands that paralleled SVG animation - both having roots in SMIL animation, I realized that SVG animation might have landed in the wild. 

A quick look see found that while FireFox 3.5 could not render a simple animation I had thrown together,  Google Chrome could. This reinforced my sense that Mozilla has moved forward more slowly on the SVG front since FireFox 1.5, pushing ahead instead on CSS3, Canvas, and technologies such as TraceMonkey. With Chrome not yet rendering MathMl, SVG animation in Chrome is deficient for physical science diagrams. 

Gecko 1.9.3 will include some animation capabilities which may land in FireFox 1.7, but the critical animateMotion that I used in my simple colliding marbles diagram is not implemented in 1.9.3. At present my…

Mean run time post-sakau II

An earlier anecdotal study looked post-sakau (Piper methysticum, Pacific island kava) exercise recovery. At that time the data set encompassed 217 days. With a larger set of 466 days of data, the seven day recovery time to run duration returning to near the long term average still appears to be essentially the case. There remains, however, some indication that my mean run duration does bounce back by the fourth day, as I had previously believed. The cumulative average, however, does not show a full recovery to the longer term mean for 14 days. There is a drop in the mean run times on the tenth and eleventh days. The underlying sample size is 19 instances of ten days post-sakau and 19 instances of being eleven days post-sakau.

That sample size suggests the drop in the average is real and not a statistical fluke. By the 24th day, however, the underlying sample size is five instances of being 25 days post-sakau. The difficulty with attaining data out in this tail is that I have to forgo s…

Funeral for Benson Moses

Colleague and friend Benson Moses passed away on the 19th of December. Friends, colleagues, and traditional leaders gathered the next day in Mand to join the family in mourning their loss.

Spensin, Paul, and Bruce lead services in his home. At this point the home was filled with family and college colleagues.

After services in the home, the casket was carried over to the Mand Congregational Church for mass.

Just after this image was taken, the church filled to standing room only, with an overflow crowd on the lawns outside. One observer noted that the funeral was the largest he had seen in Mand.

Isipao Madolehnihmw led the traditional leadership's participation in the funeral.

Traditional tributes included sakau, yams, pigs, and giant swamp taro.

As the sun set in the west, the time had come for his final rest. At any age there is sorrow in the loss of a loved one. If one passes away at 115 years old, there is a sense that one has lived as full a life as possible. When someone young le…

Graduation fall 2009

The College of Micronesia-FSM celebrated its 50th commencement exercises, themed "Facing the new horizon with determination."

LaToya and Lynn celebrate with Valedictorian LaShauna after the ceremony.

Cousins Chersea and Breechlyn.

Graduate and member of staff Amerihter was one of three members of the maintenance division to graduate today. With her is Vinnesalyn.

Norma and Ivyrose - graduations are family affairs for the college, we all can celebrate together the success of our students and our children.

First mission accomplished, on to the next challenge. Kimberly enjoying the moment. There are more images from the graduation. For those on the college intranet there is a set of the images on a web page the college web server. For those located outside of Pohnpei, a Picasa web album is available, linked below.

COM-FSM fall 2009 graduation

Christmas Concert

'Tis the season of parental photo scrums around choirs of little angels. A coveted role in a skit can get a child extra time on stage.

He and the young woman with him had the role of running across the stage proclaiming that the Messiah is coming. Running and shouting - already type cast.

Above, the two are ready to run.

Meanwhile a choir of angels sang, including my youngest.

Singing Joy to the World at the close of the show.

Second Life: A Kuhnian paradigm shift in higher education?

I picked up mention of myself in a keynote by Scott Diener at the Ascilite conference, 6th December 2009, in Auckland. Scott is the Associate Director, IT Services (Academic Support) at The University of Auckland. He too is interested in the cybercloud as a learning space. In a seminar last August, Scott proposed "learning in the clouds." His vision, however, is not that of eLuminate, BlackBoard, SmartBoards, nor mash-ups of Google docs, blogs, and social media. "Scott Diener has created a simulated hospital emergency room where small teams of medical and nursing students can learn to diagnose and treat patients requiring emergency treatment"1 - in Second Life.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is leading an effort in Second Life to help students to see the point of the knowledge they are acquiring-the real-world impact that their knowledge can achieve. Hong Kong Polytechnic University holds sixteen student orientation workshops in Second Life for their 400 new …

Office clean-up day

Time to clean off the top of my desk and the various shelves in my office. The general rule is that any paper I have not touched in a year can be tossed. Any pile of paper that has been untouched for five years does not have to be sorted through.

Movies have professors in offices lined with book shelves. I have three shelves in a single case, each shelf is three and half feet long. So I have to prune my text collection to that with which I cannot part.

Next up - the filing cabinet. Maybe tomorrow. I allow myself only five linear feet of files. Of course, I have the advantage that the bulk of my own work is stored in the nooks and crannies of cyberspace.

Blast from the past: 1967

End of term cleaning up of my desk yielded this 1967 drawing from behind an old early 21st century iMac.

Not sure what cemetery that would have been back in '67.

End of term assessment reports

My end of term course level assessment reports are posted on the college web site. Some of the thinking underneath the structure of my current assessment efforts are laid out in a presentation I gave in 2006. This term I looked at attendance across multiple terms, and the fall 2009 term end reports on student learning in statistics and physical science.

New subsections in the physical science report include a look at whether writing improved across the term and the results of a survey of what was the student's favorite and least favorite laboratory.

I also updated the ethnobotany course assessment portal. The portal is designed to be used as an interactive exploration of work done by the class this term with references to past experiences in [square brackets]. While this is not a direct measurement of student learning, I have argued that this provides a course level portfolio assessment. Although indirect, the outcome, "Students will be able to communicate and describe the hea…

COM-FSM Christmas party

The college of Micronesia-FSM held their annual faculty/staff Christmas party. I arrived a tad late, and only grabbed a couple of quick images before heading back home.

The business office offers up a Christmas song.

Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics chair and a colleague enjoy the floor show.

Director of Information Technologies along with a human resources administrator.

Ripstik redux: teaching an old dog a new trick

With the intent of using the RipStik® as the centerpiece to a discussion of kinetic and potential energy in physical science next term, employing it's unique ability to climb an shallow incline, I have hired an professor of RipStikology to teach me the Zen of castor board riding. His over six months of RipStiking place him among the senior tenured faculty of castor boarding on this island. His skills have grown greatly since last August when he gained his own board.

Note on the right above the perfect placement of my professor's center of gravity over his wheels, his poise, his bent legs in an optimal position to control the board. Note the student on the left, clearly off-balance and completely clueless, about to do a face-plant into the concrete.

The student, just before he went backwards onto his derriere off the RipStik. The learning experience was interesting. My teacher kept noting the wrong placement of my feet, sounding just like I do when I explain to students that the…

Green Steps 5k and essays

The Green Steps 5k run/trash-a-thon walk/tree planting triple header was held under clear skies with a bright morning sun - unusual conditions for Pohnpei.

With each run he keeps pace with me ever farther into the route. This morning the run began at Pohnpei Islands Central high school track and field, heading down main street to the Spanish wall from the days of Santiago de la Ascension. The turn-around was at the wall, and he kept apace of me all the way into Spanish wall.

As most participants walk and pick up trash along the route, he came in fourth overall behind Norris, myself, and a cousin of a neighbor.

Not far behind was my eldest. The youngest had overnighted at the home of a friend and did not make it out for the event. After the run I had to dash home, shower, and then head up to the college to spend the rest of the day marking college entrance test essays along with a team of nine other graders.

The essay marking exercise is always informative, albeit a seven hour long haul …